Imperial States and Civic Legacies: Associational Life in Pre-WWI and Interwar Poland


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project examines how states shape civil society. The end of the eighteenth century marked the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and the Habsburg Empire. These states pursued policies of political exclusion and forced assimilation, political marginalization and cultural repression, and political inclusion and cultural tolerance, respectively, in their “Polish” lands. This dissertation argues that these distinct approaches shaped civil society differently in each region. With Poland re-emerging as an autonomous state in 1918, this project compares the development of interwar associational life in these reunited regions to assess if pre-WWI legacies continued to shape civil society under a Polish regime, or if associational life succumbed to new policies and economic pressures, thus converging in associational character. It suggests that pre-WWI policies of political inclusion and cultural autonomy contributed to relatively higher resistance to deepening ethnic cleavage in, and elite domination of, civil society in interwar Krakow.